Legislative Report: Hospital Program Closures, School-based Health Centers
A brief summary of some hearings that took place last week.
- Education & Cultural Affairs Committee: The Education Committee held a work session on suicide prevention protocols for local schools. The bill will call on the Department to draft suggested protocols and require local school districts to enact protocols that may or may not use the Department's suggestions as a template. There was near unanimous support in committee.
- Health & Human Services Committee: The Health and Human Services Committee took testimony on LD 1715, a bill that would require an extensive public review process before a hospital could close a particular department or service. The MMA joined the Maine Hospital Association, MaineHealth, Eastern Maine Healthcare System, and others in opposing the bill. The Maine State Nurses' Association and the AFL-CIO were among the witnesses speaking in support. The MMA also testified in support of bills related to re-funding school based health centers and requiring a rule change in DHHS relating to the recoupment of certain debts. The coming week in HHS will feature opioid bills, along with work sessions on meningococcal vaccines and allowing alcohol consumption in tobacco retail establishments.
- Insurance & Financial Services Committee: The Insurance Committee has been conducting work sessions on several carry over bills of interest to Maine physicians. L.D. 1032, sponsored by Sen. Geoffrey Gratwick, M.D., would amend the definition of "clinical peer" in the Insurance Code and would require health insurance carriers to have a clinical peer render any utilization review decision. Bangor OB/GYN Paul Smith, M.D., who worked with Dr. Gratwick and the MMA in developing the bill, came to speak to the Committee about his personal experience with the utilization review process by carriers in Maine. Kate Ende of Consumers for Affordable Health Care also spoke to the Committee about her organization's consumer health line experience with this issue. The Committee also continues to work on carry over bills that were subject to "mandate studies" by the Bureau of Insurance addressing coverage for long-term antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease (L.D. 1417) and the services of naturopathic doctors (N.D.s) (L.D. 1030).
- Labor, Commerce, Research & Economic Development Committee: The LCRED Committee last week conducted a work session on L.D. 958, a bill to enact the Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Care Practitioners Act (UEVHCPA), a bill supported by the MMA and the Maine Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, among others.